What the…

Posted on March 2, 2011

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Over the last few months, a few friends have kindly posted comments, here or on Facebook. Those comments indicated that while people read and enjoy my movie posts, they may not realize that there is a method to my madness.

Learning from Movies

Picking a movie is a crucial step.

  • I like both movies that people recognize, and ones they’ve never heard of. Box office success is not a criteria.
  • It has to actually have lessons that you can learn in it.
    • If it doesn’t have those, it goes in the Friday slot (more on that later).
  • It can’t be about lessons. I’ll never do Circle of Iron, Red Belt, and probably not The Karate Kid, because those have too many explicit lessons.
    • That doesn’t make them bad movies. Circle of Iron might be fun for a Friday post, though.
  • When a movie is irredeemable, it’s a candidate for Just Look Away.

It’s important to me that I post both Learning and JLA. If all I did was JLA, then I would be a professional critic, and I don’t want to relegate myself to the sidelines. I want to jump in Life with both feet and see what happens.

Examples

  • Rocky: The Rocky franchise had its ups and downs. Almost everyone has favorite Rocky moments, music, or dialogue. That said, as I worked my way through the entire franchise, there was obviously a lot going on in the movies that could encourage and inspire.
  • Hudson Hawk: Not as well known anymore, the Hawk was a big ol’ stink bomb for Bruce Willis. When he was on the press junket for the film, he told a late night host that some people would get it, and some people wouldn’t. Many of my friends and I got it. I knew there was a lot there, and I felt like I could bring that out in my post. If I encouraged a few more people to watch it, that’s great too.
  • Against the Dark: A complete crap-fest from beginning to end. No important lessons at all. Boy did it suck (see what I did there? A vampire movie sucked. Get it?). Prime fodder for Just Look Away.
  • High Fidelity. I’m a big John Cusack fan, and I love this movie. I’m sure that I could say critical things about it, but it has more good than bad. It certainly has a lot of philosophical points, and talks a lot about relationships (and some about being a professional critic). Because it’s so explicitly about those things, it’s not a good candidate for Learning from Movies. On the other hand, because it’s a well-made film with a terrific cast, a low level of schmaltz, and isn’t too heavy-handed with meaning, it’s not a good fit for Just Look Away.

Favorite Bits

When I post life lessons that we can learn from a movie (or a film franchise), I am not just picking my favorite quotes. I try very hard not to create blog posts purely from movie quotes. You can get that from the Internet Movie Database.

When I wrote about Rocky, a friend wrote to say that I left out his favorite bit. When Rocky explains his relationship with Adrian to Paulie, he does it in terms of how they fill each other’s gaps. It’s a beautiful sentiment, and an accurate description of many successful relationships. I could have drawn a lesson from that – but I wouldn’t have used the exact quote. The word “gap” might not have made it into my post.

Sometimes the lessons do come from direct quotes. Sometimes I paraphrase dialogue. Other times, I draw a lesson from the plot or theme and put it in my own words. You’re getting my perspective on the film.

Wednesday

Wednesday posts are kind of a grab bag. I post whatever is on my mind. Lately, I’ve been posting “I Would Suck,” where I talk about my strengths and how they make me unsuitable for different activities – like reality TV or returning to the military.

Word Count

I don’t pay much attention to word count for my posts. I try to keep in the 400-500 word range. If a post is very short, then I either have other deadlines, or I’m ill. I don’t get sick often, but I’m only human. It takes energy to concentrate and to create, and sometimes I just don’t have it. Considering that my energy level can intimidate people 20 years my junior, that’s saying something.

Comments

I love them. I follow my traffic statistics on WordPress. Those tell me that you’re reading, but they don’t tell me why, and they don’t tell me what you’re thinking. Your comments tell me that. Now that you’ve read all this way, I hope you feel better prepared to suggest films, disagree with me, or tell me what I forgot.

Thanks for reading!

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